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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chadwick just keeps getting better
This was a wonderful story and much different from Chadwick's previous books, but as to be somewhat expected as Marshal's early life was one of duty to his lord(s) and not leaving much room for romance.

A fascinating look at a true, honorable and loyal man, who in the end was well rewarded for his loyalty by marriage a wealthy heiress who became his life's soul...
Published on 12 Jan 2007 by Misfit

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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a dissenting voice, I'm afraid...
I know everyone else here has raved about this novel but personally I found it trite, simplistic and far too one-dimensional. Reading is always about personal taste, but if you like your historical fiction dense, tense and immaculately written (more Dorothy Dunnett that Philippa Gregory) then I would not recommend this.

All the characters are either perfect...
Published on 23 Feb 2008 by Roman Clodia


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Historical Fiction At Its Finest!, 14 Feb 2008
By 
Tamela Mccann "taminator40" (Nashville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
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Elizabeth Chadwick has done it again! With The Greatest Knight, she has solidified her position as one of the best historical fiction authors writing today. I was eagerly awaiting this novel, and I'm delighted to say I was not disappointed in any way.

This is the story of William Marshal, an humble knight in the 12th century, who through his integrity and loyalty, rose to become one of the most trusted men of his time. Set against the backdrop of the turbulent relationships between Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II, and their sons, Marshal's story takes us on a brilliant ride of jousting tourneys, court intrigue, and yes, even romance. The fact that this novel is based on Chadwick's impeccable research makes it all the more stunning and entirely believable. The motivations for the characters are real and unembellished; Marshal is seen as a flesh-and-blood man who must make difficult choices in trying to follow his conscience. Chadwick fills in the blanks of his life with details that make his story come alive. His romance with Isabelle, an heiress twenty years his junior, is sweet and compelling; it's a match with many contemporary overtones even though it's completely true. Chadwick makes us understand William's conflicts and his triumphs. While there is a romance, this is truly historical fiction and it is absolutely wonderful---a story you can lose yourself in and emerge from with a sigh of regret at leaving this world behind. Part two is highly anticipated!

Highly, highly recommended!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beguiling epic of feudalism and fealty, 24 Jan 2008
By 
Amazon Customer (Glendale, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
English history is my personal esoteric interest, especially the period of the first Plantagenet monarchs: Henry II, Richard I (the Lionheart), John, and Henry III. Orbiting each of the four at one time or another was England's incomparable, albeit unsung, representative of feudal loyalty, William Marshal, who became 1st Earl of Pembroke. In addition to serving the monarchs mentioned, Marshal also pledged vassalage to Henry II's queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the Young King Henry, the eldest son of Henry II and Eleanor acknowledged and crowned as the heir and future king while his father was still in his prime and ruling. Of course, William pledged his loyal service to only one at a time as honorable circumstance or invitation called upon him to do so, and that occasionally made it a dodgy walk along the precipice considering the supreme dysfunctionality of Henry II's family.

William was born in 1146 and died in 1219. The forty-three chapters plus Epilogue of THE GREATEST KNIGHT span the period from the summer of 1167, when Marshal was a newly minted young knight in the household of Sir Guillaume de Tancarville, Chamberlain of Normandy and a distant kinsman, to May 1194, when William, accompanied by his heiress wife, Isabelle de Clare, and their two sons and daughter, embark by ship for Normandy with Marshal's lord at the time, King Richard. Each chapter advances the plot by several months to three years depending on the events of importance in William's life: his time in Queen Eleanor's retinue, his years in the Young King's household, his touneying days, the Young King's revolt against his father, the Young King's death, his time in Henry II's retinue, Henry's death during the revolt by Richard and John, his marriage to Isabelle, his appointment as a Royal Justiciar by King Richard, John's revolt against Richard during the latter's German imprisonment, Richard's ransom, and Richard's return to England.

THE GREATEST KNIGHT is a work of fiction based on the biography of Marshal's life, the HISTOIRE DE GUILLAUME LE MARECHAL, commissioned by his family soon after his death. The author of the former work, Elizabeth Chadwick, embellishes those parts of William's life not covered by the HISTOIRE, but in a manner she trusts is consistent with the man's personality and achievements. THE GREATEST KNIGHT should perhaps be read as a companion piece to a fine non-fiction narrative, WILLIAM MARSHAL by Georges Duby, also based on the HISTOIRE.

THE GREATEST KNIGHT not only serves as a thoroughly engaging vehicle of reading entertainment, but also as a lesson in the disadvantages of governance by feudalism , which was first and foremost a vertical network of social, military, and legal obligations between members of the nobility on several levels, from lowest knight to King. What do you do when your immediate overlord, to whom you've pledged service and allegiance, comes into philosophical and/or physical, i.e. military, conflict with his own liege lord higher up in the food chain, e.g. the King himself. A perilous situation, that, calling for careful stepping. As the reader of THE GREATEST KNIGHT will see, Marshal managed to survive the lions' den, and indeed prospered, with his honor intact to become England's preeminent example of integrity and chivalry.

Marshal is buried in London's Temple Church. I regret that I never knew enough to pay my respects at his tomb on any of my many visits to the city. In our age of blemished or non-existent heroes, honor is due.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Amazon, 28 Sep 2009
I stumbled across this book whilst looking at the 'bestsellers' on Amazon UK, and bought it, having read the glowing reviews. This book and the sequel 'The Scarlet Lion' are now up there in my favourites list. A combination of authentic atmosphere, political intrigue and a bit of romance makes for a gripping read. When it is based on facts about someone I had never heard of (and probably should have - blame the English school system, making history remote and dull)- well, I would just like to say Thanks to all of the reviewers for their comments and thanks to Amazon for the facility.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another new favorite, 9 Nov 2008
This wonderful novel covers the life of William Marshal from when he was a newly-minted knight, up until King Richard returns from crusade and capture in 1194. The title of the novel comes from Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton (1150-1228), who described William Marshal as being "the greatest knight that ever lived." Even if you don't believe Langton's statement, Marshal definitely had a reputation for being courtly, acquired while in the service of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her sons, Henry the Younger, Richard, and John. He also acquired a reputation for his political prowess.

What can I say? I loved this book! Elizabeth Chadwick bit off a lot in telling William Marshal's story, because she could have gotten mired in the details of the complicated politics of the period. Instead, she focused on Marshal's story as it related to those events, which I thought was fantastic. Chadwick's research is meticulous, and her eye for small details makes you fell as though you're actually there experiencing things with William. With regards to the man himself, may I just say that I have not just the slightest crush on him? Chadwick portrays him as courteous, loyal, charismatic, and intelligent (hmmm, maybe the author has a bit of a crush on him herself?). I had to force myself to read The Greatest Knight slowly, because I wanted to take it all in one bit at a time. I enjoyed this book so much that I've already ordered and am anticipating reading the sequel, The Scarlet Lion.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Historical Fiction Around, 31 May 2006
Elizabeth Chadwick surpasses herself as the best historical fiction author writing today. Her meticulous research into the life and times of William Marshal, one of history's great heroes, provides the background to a story that is a joy on the page.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably Ms. Chadwick's best, 30 Nov 2005
By A Customer
I've read all of Elizabeth Chadwick's books, and The Greatest Knight takes her skill to the next level. This is the way historical fiction should be written, with careful attention to known facts interwoven with great storytelling.
This book tells the story of the first half of William Marshal's life. Against the backdrop of the dysfunctional Plantagenet family, Marshal remains a loyal, steadfast figure over three generations. He's knight's knight and a hero's hero. His story has romance, political intrigue and poetic tragedy. This book deserves five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous way to learn about history!, 14 July 2008
By 
Bookworm (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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I had a great History teacher - but, boy do I wish I'd also had Elizabeth Chadwick to read when I was at school! I love History, but I'd never heard much of William Marshall until I read this book! It inspired me to do my own research into this man, and, crickey! What a hero! Why isn't the life of this great Englishman taught at every school? In "The Greatest Knight", those dark ages from the centuries at the turn of the first millenium come alive and they are peopled with characters you can identify with, who live real lives and have everyday worries which, I have to say, make ours today pale into insignificance. I await each new book of Ms Chadwick's with fevered anticipation, and at the end of each, I am sad to say goodbye to characters I come to regard as friends. If you have a 14 or 15 year old son or daughter who is a reluctant student of History, and you are broad minded enough to not mind the occasional saucy bits (Ooh missus! But not too explicit, I don't think) then let them read these and they will be transported in time, and find a new perspective on stale old studies. Fabulous!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Kniight: The Story of William Marshall, 14 Jun 2014
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I've been interested in Knights Templars and such like since I can remember and visited the round church where the effigies are including the one of William Marshall. The history of this man is incredible. He was unbelievably influential for his time, considering his quite simple beginnings. The book though didn't exactly enthrall me. It left me with a so so feeling. WM got married in later life to Isabelle who was rather well off with lots of land, and that did him no harm at all, and there is a lot of narrative about their love-making and her getting pregnant time and again. Yawn, boring. It lacks fire, passion. Perhaps a male author would have injected more into the story. WM was very much a man's man I think. This author seems to be very popular... maybe it's just me. Sorry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great bit of His fiction, 6 April 2011
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Personally, I normally steer clear of female novelists of the historical fiction category. I read them for the swashbuckling adventure and battle scenes, I my experience female writers have a tendency to focus of the love and romance 'side' of the story.

However I decided to give Elizabeth Chadwick a go and was not disappointed. The historical fiction market is awash with heroic Roman centurions that have risen rapidly through the ranks, or greek tyrants sacking and decimating a neighbours city. It is great to read a very well executed piece that covers a period that is not widely written about. There are a multitude of complex characters, but Mrs Chadwick conveys them in a way as to not confuse the reader. William Marshall fulfils the role of the 'model knight' - something I believe we all would have aspired to be in his shoes.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is into their historical fiction - I bought the Scarlet Lion right away!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Chadwick Yet, 18 Dec 2005
By 
W. Zollo ""the queen"" (MA, USA) - See all my reviews
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THE GREATEST KNIGHT is without question Elizabeth Chadwick's finest novel. As the above summation spells out in a concise and accurate manner I don't consider it crucial to reiterate the obvious plot of THE GREATEST KNIGHT.
What is most noticeable about Chadwick's latest novel is the subtle escalation of her writing talents which are only enhanced by her usual flair for meticulous research and that has indisputably refined not only the novel's atmosphere but its dialogue.
The historical William Marshal was a complex, captivating individual and he loses none of these qualities when they find themselves in the impressive sway of Ms. Chadwick's capable hands. The action is fully-fleshed out, the relationship and persona of Isobel de Clare brings a sensation of genuineness and sincerity. It was forthrightly one of my particular favorite sections of the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the blossoming of this relationship from strangers, to frienship, to lovers. Yet, understand this is a novel filled with the giants of history and Chadwick certainly allows them to leave their mark along with the scandals, intrigue, deceit, and a masterful game of chess where people's lives are at stake all marvelously handled with precision, care and the perfectly well-chosen word.
I eargly look forward to the next installment in Marshal's adventures and can think of no better author than Elizabeth Chadwick to orchestrate a treaty of composed passion a'propos such a momentous man.
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